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Former Google+ boss says his new startup beat the Apple Watch Series 4 by years

September 13th, 2018 at 11:34 PM
Apple Watch Series 4

The last time I interviewed Vic Gundotra was some six years ago, back when he was still the top executive at Google’s not yet ghost town of a social network, Google+, and he was as Google-y as you’d expect about how amazing and wonderful it was going to be.

Fast forward to today, and Gundotra is now the CEO of health tech startup AliveCor, and he’s no less eloquent about his new company’s sense of mission and the purpose it brings to its main work. Which includes things like making it possible to use a smartphone to take an electrocardiogram.

You can see where this is going. “Apple doesn’t like to admit they copy anyone, even in the smallest things,” Gundotra told Business Insider after watching Apple’s unveiling of the Watch Series 4 Wednesday. During the event, of course, Apple made a big deal about the ability to eventually use the watch to take an electrocardiogram reading. There’s a new sensor that lets you use the watch to tell whether you have a normal or irregular heartbeat, among lots of other health features.

“It was amazing, it was like us being on stage, with the thing we’ve been doing for 7 years,” Gundotra told BI. He was referring to, according to the news site, “AliveCor’s product for detecting atrial fibrillation (AFib), a tough-to-spot heart disorder that manifests as an irregular, often quick heart rate that can cause poor circulation.”

His startup employs almost 50 people and makes ECG testing devices and software, as well as an FDA-approved Apple Watch band and another version of that band that attaches to a smartphone.

During the event Wednesday, Apple claimed the new watch model will represent the first “over-the-counter” consumer ECG testing device. That’s the part Gundotra seemed to be disputing, though CNBC reporter Chrissy Farr shared some helpful context via Twitter:

So there you go. What’s not at all unclear, meanwhile, is the difference in pricing between the two companies’ products. The Apple Watch 4 starts at $399, while AliveCor’s hardware starts at $300 less than that.

In his BI interview, Gundotra described AliveCor as being comparable to a really great restaurant in a kind of out-of-the-way part of town. With what Apple is doing with the new watch, it’s like “someone just opened a giant restaurant right next to us, bringing a lot more attention.”

Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.

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